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MALVERN, Pa. -- Supervalu subsidiary Acme Markets, based here, and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. are taking leading roles in a movement to allow beer and wine to flow through the doors of Pennsylvania supermarkets.
Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans has revealed plans to buy liquor licenses for its 11 Pennsylvania stores, first for selling beer for takeout, and then eventually beer, wine, and spirits to drink in the stores' cafes. Wegmans' petition for liquor licenses would not necessarily give the retailer the right to sell beer and wine as packaged goods in its stores.
Meanwhile Acme Markets, the Philadelphia area's market leading grocery chain, is putting on the pressure for regulations to allow it to sell beer, wine, and alcohol in its Pennsylvania stores.
The retailers' gambits to alter the state's tightly regulated sales of wine, beer, and spirits promise to stir some controversy. They will put pressure on lawmakers, and hasten discussions in the court of public opinion in the Keystone State, whose distribution of wine and spirits is controlled by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), an independent agency that owns and operates wine and spirits stores, commonly referred to as "state stores" in all 67 counties.
Dave McCorkle, president of the Harrisburg, Pa.-based Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA), said his association has a task force working on the issue, while also seeking legislative support for developing a statewide system for licensing retail food stores to sell wine and beer.
"About 25 percent of the wine consumed in Pennsylvania is purchased out of state," said McCorkle. "Moreover, Pennsylvania has one retail wine sales outlet for each 13,000 adults of drinking age compared to one per 1,300 -- which is the nationwide average."